RSPB sets out reasons why it wanted Great Yarmouth Air Show postponed

Scroby Sands.Picture: Mike Page

Scroby Sands.Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Archant

The RSPB has explained its reasons why it wanted the Great Yarmouth Air Show to be cancelled while little terns are nesting.

Their statement came after air show organisers said flight paths had already been changed and they were considering a further no fly zone.

Ben McFarland, RSPB Conservation Manager, said: “We are very lucky in east Norfolk to host such an important population of little terns, which rely on our hospitality over the summer months. It is very disappointing that the organisers are proposing to hold the Air Show at this time of year, despite our concerns being raised since October 2016.

“Scroby Sands is a legally protected site of global importance for wildlife and little terns are a protected species. We are also concerned the Natural England will allow Great Yarmouth Air Show to proceed despite these legal protections.

“We recognise the value of the air show and the economic benefit it will bring to the area, but it should be held in September, after the little terns have nested.

“While we’re pleased to hear that Air Show organisers are finally taking our concerns on board and are even discussing re-routing flight paths for the Red Arrows, we are still worried that any new flight lines of the aircraft will be too close to the birds’ nesting colonies and pose a significant rick of disturbance.

“We could have avoided arriving at this situation with three weeks to go before the Air Show if our concerns had been recognised when they were first raised in October 2016.”

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The RSPB believes there are serious consequences for wildlife, and is adding pressure to ensure that:

Thorough assessments have been undertaken to understand noise and visual effects on the terns to identify, if possible, appropriate flight lines and location of the display area.

The offshore tern colony is closely monitored to identify if the birds are showing signs of disturbance during the display, with options to stop the display in place.

Sufficient resources are provided to other little tern colonies on the coast to ensure that they have the best chance of success, especially to manage the influx of visitors that could use the wider coast outside of the display times.

In future years, Great Yarmouth Air Show takes place outside the breeding season.

Ongoing funding will be provided to support the maintenance of Scroby Sands and associated sites important for wildlife into the future.

The air show is being organised by a private company, the Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area Ltd (the Tourism BID), which is a separate organisation to both Great Yarmouth Borough Council and the Civil Aviation Authority.

It is this company which is proposing to hold their air show in June.